The Festival of (Giving) Trees

The Festival of (Giving) Trees is a four day family event, designed to be a holiday activity. Chosen organizations donate a artificial tree decorated with a theme. The MOMS Club was chosen to contribute a tree. Trees are raffled. The mission is to raise money to help the Silent Spring Institute, the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition and the Cancer Center at Harrington Hospital to fight the battle against breast cancer and to help fund cancer research. Over the past fourteen years, the Festival of (Giving) Trees has raised and donated over $390,000 to these beneficiaries.

MOMS Club puts up a family tree, themed yarn and color. MOMS, dads and kiddos help hang the ornaments.

The tree is beautiful.


Scavenger Tree Hunt

The MOMS Club has set up their outdoor tree for the Annual Scavenger Tree Hunt, organized by the Conservation Committee in town.

When we are finished hanging all the sticks and rocks, we step back, admire our work, and venture off to find the rest of the hidden trees.

We hike about 2 miles and find 13 trees.
It is a long and tiring hike for a 3 and 5 year old. It was cold, but we kept moving, saying, “never give up.”
We’re going on a tree hunt, we’re gonna find a beauty, what a beautiful day, we’re not tired.

What if you decorated a tree on local trail for people to find? That’s be fun, right?

We will be sending the pics of the boys and trees to the conservation committee, and entering to win a grand prize of movie tickets.


Making Ornaments: Community Holiday Trees

In the winter, the MOMS Club contributes to two holiday tree events.

The Festival of (Giving) Trees is a four day family event, designed to be a holiday activity. Chosen organizations donate a artificial tree decorated with a theme. The MOMS Club was chosen to contribute a tree. Trees are raffled. The mission is to raise money to help the Silent Spring Institute, the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition and the Cancer Center at Harrington Hospital to fight the battle against breast cancer and to help fund cancer research. Over the past fourteen years, the Festival of (Giving) Trees has raised and donated over $390,000 to these beneficiaries.

The theme we’ve chosen for this tree is yarn and color. We score Pinterest for simple, colorful yarn ornament ideas that families can do together.
wrap yarn around a wire shape
God’s eyes
lacing cards
finger knit garland

The town’s Conservation Commission organizes a Winter Tree Scavenger Hunt. The object of the hunt is to find 8-10 decorated trees, take your photo with each tree and email all photos to the Conservation Commission between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.
The Scavenger Tree will be sticks and stones: Nature’s Best Toys Ever! Approved by the MOMS Club of Sturbridge.
We paint sticks,
color on hot stones,
and modge modge magazine bits onto stones too.

We set up a morning at the local basement of the Federated Church for MOMS and kids to play with yarn. We share project ideas on the MOMS Club Facebook page and set up goodie bags with supplies people can take home to work on the ornaments on their own time.

We will meet at the church to decorate the yarn and color tree.
We will meet in the woods to pick a tree and hang sticks and stones.


Batty about Bats: Song, Craft and Books

We learned all this info at the local library!

Flight of the Bats, to the tune of Saints Go Marching In

Oh when the bats, fly in the night
Oh when the bats fly in the night.
The mosquitoes better scatter,
when the bats fly in the night.

They use their screech, to search the dark
They use their screech to search the dark
they find their way, using sonar,
when they use their screech at night.

Oh when the sun, is on the rise,
Oh when the sun is on the rise,
The bats head back to the the rafters
when the sun is on the rise.

And when those bats, call it a night,
oh when those bats call it a night,
They hang upside down and hold on tight
When those bats call it a night. SHHHHHH!

Little J loves bats. He forgoes the Iron Man costume this Halloween for his handmade piecemeal bat costume from last Halloween.
I think the idea of Halloween can be even more fun after it happens. The kids’ love of dress up is rekindled, there is candy to enjoy and to remember the holiday with every sweet treat.

We decide to pull out a simple, hand tracing, bat craft the day after Halloween.
The kids trace their little hands on black or brown paper.
Cut them out, with or without adult help.
Draw and cut out a bat head.
Glue the wings onto the head.
Draw a face with white colored pencil.

A quick little craft like this one is a great excuse to archive the size of our little peoples’ hands and to practice and build up those small motor skills.

If you’re studying a unit about night creatures or if your child just really likes bats, you might want to check out these bat books.

Bats at the Library by Brian Lies
Bats at the Beach by Brian Lies
Batty by Sarah Dyer
Stellaluna by Janell Cannon


6 tips to carve with kids: Happy Halloween

1. Carve your pumpkin outdoors or cover work area with newspaper for easy clean up.
2. If kids don’t like to feel the insides with their bare hands, use a garden, rubber, or winter glove to remove pulp.
3. Dry the pumpkin with a cloth before drawing a face with Sharpie.
4. Talk to your kids about the parts of the face and let them draw and carve it themselves to the best of their ability. (Parent supervision and help is a given.)
5. Don’t dump seeds in the compost or you’ll have a surprise pumpkin patch in the spring when you use your soil for the garden. (I say this from personal experience.)
6. Roast the seeds in your oven or dry them in the sun for next year’s harvest. We’re doing both.

Three Great Pumkiny, Halloweeny Books

Pumpkin Jack by Will Hubbell, tells the story of a little boy, who’s leftover decomposing pumpkin, plants seeds for the next jack o lantern.
Halloween by Harry Behn, Halloween poetry paired with beautiful illustrations of children out on Halloween night.
Pumpkin Moon by Tim Preston, tells the magical story of pumpkins on Halloween night after the trick or treating is over.


Kiddie Pool on Steroids

Little J’s birthday is the beginning of June.
POPS buys our family a 12 foot round INTEX pool for the summer.

Just in time for our first heat wave, Big K levels the ground, blows up the pool, fills it with water, and figures out the whole filtration and chlorination system.

We spend 2 days straight enjoying the cool water.
Compared to a “real pool,” the INTEX is relatively inexpensive, and is also filtered and chlorinated. The kiddie pools we’ve used in years past have had to be dumped out every day and are full of grass and dirt minutes after filling it. The plastic pool definitely did the job, but the INTEX is like a kiddie pool on steroids.

For my little ones, 7 and under, it’s a perfect height, 30 inches, the water doesn’t reach above anyone’s head. Since having this pool, about 2 weeks, both boys have made HUGE strides with their swimming skills.

Big K thinks that if they swim in the pool in the evening that they don’t need a bath. Not so sure about that, babe.
Little J draws a picture of himself, diving into his new pool.


Art Playgroup Tries Their Hand at the USA Flag

The local MOMS Club is at it again this summer, hosting an Arts and Crafts Camp every week. Two moms host, come up with a project and provide snack together. Today was the first week of Arts and Crafts Camp. Little J, Little K and I make some Handprint American Flags inspired by and originally posted by Muffin Tin Mom.

It is a simple craft, geared towards any age, friendly to the “creative interpretations” kids like to put on craft instructions, and it’s perfect for this time of year in the U.S. when the fireworks and celebrations of independence commence. We will be going to a friends’ party this weekend, and we plan on waving our little handprint American flags.

Little J did not want to paint his hand, so he painted mine and we printing the flag with my fingers and palm. He enjoyed painting the popsicle stick the best. Little K did not want to paint his hand either, so just applied the red, white and blue paint to the flag. He enjoyed the star stickers the most.

Supplies on the Table:
red, white and blue paint
blue construction paper, cut to 4 by 5 inches
paint brushes
popsicle stick
small star stickers
glue stick
hole punch
thin ribbon in red, white, or blue

Instructions:
Paint the palm or have the child paint their own hand blue and the fingers red and white alternately.
Place the child’s hand, palm and fingers down, onto the construction paper and let dry.
Apply mini star stickers to the palm area.
Apply glue to the top half of the popsicle stick and paste to the flag
Punch a hole in the upper left corner of the flag.
String whatever combo of the thin ribbon you wish.
Tie the ribbon off and you are ready to celebrate!


Tin Lantern Project for Camping.

While you are setting up the tent and prepping a tin foil bon fire dinner, you can get the kids going on this simple and beautiful project.

Save some of your cans from the recyclables, fill them with water and place in the freezer, giving a little of space at the top for water expansion. Use these icy cans to keep some of your perishables cold in your cooler on the way to your camp site.

While unpacking the car, set up on a picnic table: frozen tin cans, hammers and nails.
Younger kids might not have the strength to punch a hole though the tine, but with a little bit of help and patience, they will master the task.

Direct the kids to punch holes in the tin all over and around. My kids also liked to hammer the ice inside the cans with the nails.

We put the tin lanterns around the camp fire at night.


Mini Donut Morning

It’s Friday, the last day of PreK for Little J.
This weekend we will celebrate Little J’s 5th birthday with all his friends and we’re busy putting little baggies of fun goodies together to share. I go to Target to buy bag stuffers, I don’t go to Target that often, and I know why. Everything looks so shiny and new and fun on those packed shelves. Of course, I have to go the the cooking area and I find a mini donut maker. On impulse, I put it in my cart…it only cost $18.

The boys are more excited than me about our new gadget. They love donuts, but we don’t tend to imbibe often because I would rather they eat their fruit and yogurt, etc.

Today is a perfect day to make a batch of mini donuts. It turns out that, if you don’t fry them, they are a lot like making a pancake or waffle. Not so unhealthy.

This is the recipe we use:

Basic Donut Recipe
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
4 tablespoons cooking oil

Stir dry ingredients together. Add egg, vanilla, and milk and beat 1 minute with electric mixer or vigorously by hand. Add oil and continue to beat 1 minute more.

By request, we also “glaze” the donut with a heated mix of 1 part milk, 3 parts honey, and add sprinkles.


Birthday Dragon

It’s Little J’s 5th birthday. During the Christmas season he received a Cupcake Cookbook that’s he’s poured over since, picking out favorites, asking the people he loves if they’ll pick out their favorite too. The Dragon Cupcake has been his consistent favorite.

He asks me to read the list of ingredients and we both wonder about fondant, I’m not that advanced with my baking and decorating.
When his birthdays rolls around, he puts in his official request for the dragon cupcake.

We make a trip to the store and look for things that will work in the making of the dragon. I’m not brave enough to try to make and work with fondant, so I try my hand at a material that’s more familiar, my favorite childhood candy, Starburst.

The boys help me make the cupcakes and we set them aside to cool right before bed. After I tuck them in, I get to work with my fingers trying to mold Starburst into a dragon shape.

It take some hand and finger strength, but once the candy starts molding, it’s not too hard. I was able to shape the dragon to my satisfaction and set it on top of one of the cupcakes for a birthday breakfast treat.

Upon inspection, Jonah is happy too.